OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — A man from Okeechobee County faces multiple charges after deputies said he concocted a drug-laced tea using mushrooms and gave it to two teenage girls.
The sheriff's office said Thursday that the two girls, ages 13 and 14, were at the house of the suspect, identified as 47-year-old Shawn Matthew Pyper.
Sheriff Noel Stephen said the 13-year-old girl's mother thought she was at a friend's house and the 14-year-old is a chronic runaway.
The children said that they went into a nearby cow pasture to collect the mushrooms after recent rains.
They said they filled up a plastic shopping bag with the mushrooms and then gave them to Pyper.
Investigations said Pyper then used a pot and stove to prepare the mushrooms into a tea, mixing in fruit-flavored Kool-Aid.
The two girls spent most of the night consuming the hallucinogenic beverage, according to the sheriff's office.
In the early morning hours, officials said one of the girls blacked out and fell on the floor, causing facial injuries and bleeding.
Deputies said Pyper refused to help the girls or get help because he feared being arrested.
One of the girls left the house and fled to a neighbor's home in search of help.
"They went and knocked on a door, and then that neighbor took her to an off-duty deputy's house," Stephen said.
This prompted an investigation and the eventual arrest of Pyper.
Neighbor Danny Rumbaugh saw the early-morning commotion at the house.
"Everybody was here. The cops were here. The ambulance was here," Rumbaugh said.
Law enforcement at the scene learned the 14-year-old girl and the 47-year-old Pyper claimed to be dating, unbeknownst to the girl's mother.
Both girls were evaluated at a hospital and returned to their parents.
The sheriff's office said Pyper has an arrest history involving child abuse.
A different child was previously removed from his home due to domestic violence allegations, which he's awaiting trial.
"You don't need people like that out there on the streets, especially messing with children. That just makes me sick. I've seen a lot in my 78 years, but that kind of stuff is just horrible. I never heard about that when I was younger, but there's some sickies out there," Rumbaugh said.
The sheriff's office said Pyper faces charges of manufacturing a dangerous drug, delivery of a dangerous drug to juveniles, interference of child custody and felony child abuse.
Detectives said Pyper is being held at the Okeechobee County Jail, and they have requested no bail.